It’s that time of the year again, when our farm in Mahabaleshwar is thriving and blooming. The entire farm is disrupted during the monsoons, which are heavy, non stop and torrential. In fact Mahabaleshwar gets the second highest rainfall in India, next only to Cherrapunji.
Just before the rains are predicted to stop, (and these predictions never come true!), we start planting some seeds in a sheltered area. Once the rains stop, the seeds are now seedlings and can be re transplanted in pots or beds. It’s a lot of work! The soil has to be turned, aired and new top soil has to be spread. Since we plant over almost 2 acres of land, it’s a busy time for all of us.
Seeing the seedlings burst forth into vegetables and flowers is the best thrill and pure fodder for my soul. I love the city but off late ever so often I just want to vacate my senses and vegetate with the vegetation.
This year started with a wild, wild and massive bush of Basil. So much that I did not know what to do with it. I plucked them and got them back to Bombay, still pondering in my head and actually stressing over not wasting this lot. It was fragrant, the leaves heavy with taste. I decided to make Pesto and sell it to my customers.
I came home and experimented with a batch. It was perfect, green and luscious. I bottled it and announced the sale, and it was gone within hours! All the bottles were booked!
Over time, the green becomes pale and dark. So if you want really bright green pesto, make it on the spot and use it. Making it a day in advance allows all the flavours to steep. But if you want to use it as a dip, or in an open sandwich, then make it on the spot.
Basil grows very easily in home cultured pots. And mind you, it can grow wild. Now when you have too much Basil, and your heart is breaking at the wastage, you know what to do with it.
We were all having fondue, and one of our friends did not like the smell of the cheese. So I made Pesto Pasta for her and her husband. I do believe the plate was polished off!!! 😀
I hope you enjoy making this recipe, because there is no better smell than that of, fresh basil, smooth virgin olive oil and fragrant new garlic.
You have all the right to give me a few kicks on the backside. Talking off which, I promise you, the lack of communique and posts were nothing to do with me lying on my backside. I have been travelling non-stop and in a good way. Went visited the son in San Diego, and then the daughter in San Jose.
Immediately after that, there was a quick trip to Delhi, Bangalore, Chikmanglur, UK and Scotland – so you tell me, other than amassing a repertoire of good food recipes to develop, where would I have found the time to write a post? HUH?
I sent the husband to Food Hall (our best gourmet store in Bombay), for a spot of food shopping. Foodie that he is, he went quite unhinged and brought me back so much food, that when I think of it even now, I break out into a sweat!
Within this shopping frenzy, he got back fresh Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese. Since it was staring at me from the fridge shelf for more than two days, I wanted to make something with it. Frankly, I was quite done and dusted with the typical Caprese Salad. Using the same ingredients, we went about trying something completely new. I first considered topping it with mango salsa, but it sounded so bleh! And – the son made such a face, I immediately gave up the idea. So while standing and staring at the Mozzarella for more than 5 minutes, I came up with this concept.
One can call it a Baked Caprese Salad, but somehow the word “melted” made it sound a bit exotic and intriguing.
You will need a cast iron skillet. Mine was too deep, so I used my sizzler plate instead.
I sliced tomatoes and onions and sautéd them in a non-stick pan with good old olive oil. Then transferred them to the sizzler plate. Then – added the mozzarella and popped it into a hot oven. The Mozzarella melted overwhelmingly, and Voila I had a brand new dish in my hands.
I could have set the sizzler plate on top of the stove and roasted the tomatoes and onions directly on it, but I found it easier and cleaner to use the non-stick and then transfer the contents.
I wanted to use basil leaves and/or pesto, but again not the same typical recipe. Instead, I made Basil oil.
Melted Caprese Salad, is different, outlandish and out of the box. But hey! It’s tasty, wholesome and the best thing is it’s not boring. Enjoy it as a starter, or even as a heavy serving of side dish. I served it with thin slices of toasted baguettes drizzled with aged extra virgin olive oil. Melted Caprese Salad is garnished with pickled green peppers, but I think even capers would add an additional piquant flavour.
Apologies about the link —- this is the corrected version.
I am super super excited about this recipe. It’s complicated (a little bit!) but it looked so brilliant. I saw a version of this on a cooking channel and I got up from my chair, headed to my bar, collected the vodka, (yup! It has Vodka!!) and all the ingredients and started making it, changing a little bit of the recipe here and there.
After 15 minutes into cooking, the fragrance wafting from the kitchen to the rest of the house drew many of the family members and a few neighbours into our kitchen. I tell you I am on my knees, worshipping this sauce.
It’s a thick sauce. Really thick. It’s not to be had on its own (but you might finish a lot of it while tasting it – I warn you!). You will have to mix it with some stock water, hell even mixing it in the water used to cook pasta lends it an amazing flavour.
Use it as a pizza base, as a base for Bruschetta, in a salad! Just make it, creative ideas will flow in.
I don’t want you to read all these descriptions and explanations. What I want you to do is get hold of all the ingredients and start making it. Let the family members walk in with appreciative sniffs and exclamations. Keep them waiting, and then hit them with a pasta made from this recipe. Lie back and bask in the glory!
PS: There is one very important thing that you have to follow, that’s – the instructions. There will be times while making the recipe you might think I am joking or that I have lost my mind. Have faith. I am very serious when I say what I say, and I am very sane and going to wait for your comments after you have made this recipe. You can advocate my sanity.
Without more blah blah – here is the recipe for Italian Tomato Sauce.
PS _AGAIN__and here is the link to the video —–
A shout out to my school friends who always have my back — hey there girls 🙂
Thanks to Brinda – for helping me with this video.
Limoncello always gives me visions of my visit to Italy – the Tuscan coast. I was fighting my inner demons trying to decide what to drink – a classic glass of Tuscan Red Wine, according to me the best in the world, or a super cool Tuscan Limoncello.
Every little and big family make their own Limoncello. Each has a family secret, and hidden in the sheds they concoct their heirloom recipes. At least I visualise it that way! The Daddy’s and Mommies, hunkered down at their huge tables, with the spring season – well! – springing outside, peeling away industriously at lemons, and emptying jugs of vodka over the peels. Another lot, juicing the lemons, to make the lemon and sugar syrup. And the Grand Pappy and GrandMommy sitting and shouting instructions, and tasting the Limoncello till their offsprings have got it right!
What a sight!!
The recipe I have used is partly from the internet. But the big part, played by the sugar and lemon juice is from the family diaries of my great friends – The Bathija’s.
The entire team efforts made such a deadly Limoncello, that our man Rajesh (as seen above) finished my bottle! :O
There is no recipe to follow. Only instructions.
The problem with this recipe is that one cannot make out beforehand, the quantities of vodka needed. It all depends on how much lemon peel and what quantity of lemon juice the batch of lemons throw up. I started with 2 Cups of vodka, but ended up using the entire 750 ml bottle, much to the dismay of my husband 😛
So for the sake of your sanity, have a full bottle of vodka ready. Good food requires good alcohol. Trust me it makes a difference. You don’t have to use your best drinking vodka, but do settle for a good quality bottle.
It is potent enough to make you tipsy
It’s the most refreshing drink to have over crushed ice. The batch I make is normally over within days. We have it whenever we please – over lunch, after dinner, to start our evening….